For just a moment, let’s tune out the predictable bawling from all the politicians who’d rather fight against the opposing party than work for their constituents. We’ll get to them in a minute.
Instead, let’s imagine — just for a moment — what it would be like to hop a passenger train in Toppenish, Yakima or Ellensburg and skip all the traffic and snow hazards on your way to Seattle or Spokane. Or what if North First Street began to look inviting rather than foreboding?
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Yakima Air Terminal could get some updating and be able to accommodate 21st-century demands? And just for laughs, what if truckers hauling heavy loads didn’t have to tiptoe across the crumbling bridge on Harrison Road north of Selah?
You’d think being able to deliver improvements like that would be a dream come true for most public servants.
Oh — wait, though. If they came from the other side of the aisle, who needs ’em? Who cares if billions of dollars will soon flow into our state to fix lousy roads and failing bridges and make it easier to transport people — and products — back and forth across the Cascade Range?
Astoundingly, that’s been the reaction from Republicans like U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside and every other vote-fearing Republican in the state. They’re all tearing out their hair over the $1.2 trillion Build Back Better infrastructure package that cleared both houses of Congress and was signed into law this week by President Joe Biden.
The plan means $407 billion for highways and $605 million for decades-overdue bridge repairs is headed Washington’s way, but what do Republicans like U.S. Rep Cathy McMorris Rogers of Spokane have to say about it?
“The Senate infrastructure bill and the massive tax and spending spree are not the will of the American people,” she said in a statement. “The Democrats’ radical agenda to spend a reckless amount of money will raise costs and make it even harder for people to build a better life.”
This despite the fact that recent polls — including from Fox News — show that roughly 60% of Americans actually support the plan. And all that “reckless” spending? Look at it this way: If you delay fixing your roof for years and finally decide to replace it because you’re tripping over rain buckets to catch the leaks in your living room, was that really a “spending spree?”
Of course not. And trying to call it that is just political bullheadedness.
Failure to maintain critical infrastructure might save budgets in election years, but at some point, asphalt, concrete and even steel bridges need some attention. That’s the whole point of the Build Back Better plan.
Modernizing our airport and restoring local rail service to the Yakima Valley — which hasn’t booked a train traveler in 40 years — is the “better” part of the plan.
It’s disappointing and frustrating to see politicians put their own agendas ahead of the needs of the people who pay their substantial salaries and cover their first-class health care and other benefits.
Yes, the Republican Party is the distinct favorite on this side of the state, but we’d sure appreciate seeing them do something to benefit regular voters, rather than just their party and its richest donors. Maybe they could start by broadening the vocabulary in their platforms — something beyond “no.”